Through the art of glass, Dallas artist Carlyn Ray is helping families to form stronger bonds. Whether it’s the blended family strengthening new connections, or the established couple expressing a deep bond, glass art “becomes a family experience — a family heirloom” that connects people not only to their own art but to each other. And for Ray, helping others experience that connection is a privilege.
“If they can have a piece that brings them creativity and joy every day, I think that’s a huge gift I’m able to give them,” she said.
Carlyn Ray’s Connection to Chihuly
Locals who experienced glass art for the first time through Dale Chihuly’s exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum sometimes find Carlyn Ray (who worked with the famous Chihuly) on their own. But often, clients come to Ray through interior designers who introduce them to the possibilities of custom glass art.
“It’s nice to have people share the experience they had at the Arboretum. And then to make something like that in their own home.”
When a client commissions a new piece, Ray invites them to come into the studio for a private session, to own some part of the actual creation.
“I want this to be creative, not scary or uncomfortable,” Ray said. “I want the client to be part of the creation. That’s our niche. It’s so different than buying a piece of art in a showroom.”
Taking part in the creative process connects clients to their art in a deep and meaningful way. In part, because the envisioned outcome relies so heavily on their own personal vision. Borrowing a bit from Marie Kondo, Ray likes to ask people to ask themselves, what brings me joy?
Non-artists respond well to Ray’s approach. “You don’t have to have an art degree to say, ‘That brings me joy,’” she said. “Even if you’re not an artist, you hold something up and you just know what feels right.”
Communication and Creation
Ray’s process involves hands-on color exploration, including a site visit to the client’s home to sketch on the wall what the envisioned piece would look like. There, she pulls colors from the home, and even the outside environment, to complete the vision for the piece. Greens from the trees. Aquas and blues from the pool. The sketch allows the client to look at it from all angles, to feel it begin to live in the space.
“Once we see it in the space, we can fine-tune all the dimensions. Clear communication from the start allows for a smooth process.”
At the end, whether it’s wall art (like Ray’s signature woven pieces), a lighting fixture, or a table piece, Ray takes satisfaction from the personal connection her clients feel to their new art. “When that piece has been on the wall and their neighbor says I love that piece, they feel proud because they helped create it. It becomes their piece.”
Guiding clients through sharing their imaginations holds significant meaning for Ray.
“I love what I do and I love my journey so far,” she said. “My purpose is to share creativity and spark the imagination. It’s what connects us to god, to a higher power, to the universe and it makes me really happy. I love sharing what brings me joy. And even if the people I share it with don’t find it their calling, it’s still a very beautiful thing.”